Prior to being owned by Flat Coats we were Golden Retriever owners. Kim successfully bred and showed a number of Goldens  and produced 5 Champions including a Best in Show Golden. The sad direction of the Golden Retriever's health and the breed's split into field lines and show lines led us to the Flat Coated Retriever. (This is NOT to imply that Flat Coats do not have health issues... they do! Please visit the FCRSA health information page). These are NOT black Goldens! The personality of the breed is unique. The training approach is different. The desire to retrieve and the "birdiness" of the breed remains VERY much intact and responsible Flat Coat breeders wish to keep it that way. While this is very endearing to those of us who work our dogs in field it can be a tad overbearing for those who don't like their dogs carrying all sorts of things in their mouths most of the time. (Gastric obstruction surgery is common.)Likewise, if there is water anywhere near, the Flat Coat will likely find it and happily return to you dripping wet and begging affection.

As a hunting companion, we believe they are second to none. Yet they remain somewhat independent and will often challenge your skill in training. They are extremely intelligent and eager to learn but...they simply know they know the job better than you and they do require a different approach than some more popular "robotic retrievers."  They do not like overbearing repetition. While they respond best to positive reinforcement, they handle correction well and are very forgiving. Most of us who hunt our Flat Coats adhere to the motto: "Life is too short to hunt with an ugly dog."

We try to fully educate new Flat Coat owners before they become addicted (once owned by a Flat other breed will do.)

PLEASE take time to read the breed information/standard/ and comments. These dogs are wonderful but may not be for everyone.

Yellow Flat Coated Retrievers FACTS:  
  • DO NOT be SCAMMED by people breeding yellow Flat Coats and claiming they are some rare and valuable dog who is being discriminated against by FCRSA or the AKC.
  • Be very suspicious of someone breeding specifically in hopes of getting yellows. While they are wonderful pets...they are unable to be shown in AKC conformation shows.Reputable breeders adhere to the standard as set forth by the FCRSA.
  • Serious and ethical Flat Coated Retriever breeders would not purposely breed in hopes of yellow...although they do pop up from time to time in conscientious breeders' breeding programs. 
  • Ethical breeders do not KILL yellow puppies. They are CULLED from the breeding program...NOT killed. Don't let people play the pity card about how these lovely dogs are killed. They are NOT. They are placed in wonderful homes and are required to be spayed/neutered.
  • Since Flat-Coats typically have rather large litters (8+) the need for yellows in order to maintain a stronger gene pool is simply not true. One could just as easily breed to one of the "allowed color" pups in the same litter. Likewise, those claiming that they use the yellow dogs to improve the health of the breed, DO NOT do the genetic clearances necessary to insure such "noble" goals.
  • The goal of any ethical breeder is to produce puppies that are "better" than their parents in regards conformation, health, and trainability. Breeding purposely to obtain a disallowed color would be in direct violation of that ethic and hence of no value to the breed. If a breeder can not articulate how a particular breeding will better the breed (or at least improve upon the parents)...perhaps they should be better off breeding guppies rather than puppies. 

AKC Breed Standard (commentary in RED)

General Appearance
The Flat-Coated Retriever is a versatile family companion hunting retriever with a happy and active demeanor (he stays a puppy for a LONG time), intelligent expression, and clean lines. The Flat-Coat has been traditionally described as showing "power without lumber and raciness without weediness." The distinctive and most important features of the Flat-Coat are the silhouette (both moving and standing), smooth effortless movement, head type, coat and character. In silhouette the Flat-Coat has a long, strong, clean, "one piece" head, which is unique to the breed. Free from exaggeration of stop or cheek, the head is set well into a moderately long neck which flows smoothly into well laid back shoulders. A level topline combined with a deep, long rib cage tapering to a moderate tuck-up create the impression of a blunted triangle. The brisket is well developed and the forechest forms a prominent prow. This utilitarian retriever is well balanced, strong, but elegant; never cobby, short legged or rangy. The coat is thick and flat lying (and sheds), and the legs and tail are well feathered. A proud carriage, responsive attitude, waving tail (that will knock things off the coffee table) and overall look of functional strength, quality, style and symmetry complete the picture of the typical Flat-Coat. Judging the Flat-Coat moving freely on a loose lead and standing naturally is more important than judging him posed. Honorable scars should not count against the dog.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size-Individuals varying more than an inch either way from the preferred height should be considered not practical for the types of work for which the Flat-Coat was developed. Preferred height is 23 to 241/2; inches at the withers for dogs, 22 to 231/2 inches for bitches. Since the Flat-Coat is a working hunting retriever he should be shown in lean , hard condition, free of excess weight. (Sadly we are seeing less of this in the breed ring and more over-weight exhibitors we need to pay attention to this.)  Proportion-The Flat-Coat is not cobby in build. The length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the rearmost projection of the upper thigh is slightly more than the height at the withers. The female may be slightly longer to better accommodate the carrying of puppies. Substance-Moderate. Medium bone is flat or oval rather than round; strong but never massive, coarse, weedy or fine. This applies throughout the dog.

The long, clean, well molded head is adequate in size and strength to retrieve a large pheasant, duck or hare with ease. Skull and Muzzle-The impression of the skull and muzzle being "cast in one piece" is created by the fairly flat skull of moderate breadth and flat, clean cheeks, combined with the long, strong, deep muzzle which is well filled in before, between and beneath the eyes. Viewed from above, the muzzle is nearly equal in length and breadth to the skull. Stop-There is a gradual, slight, barely perceptible stop, avoiding a down or dish-faced appearance. Brows are slightly raised and mobile, giving life to the expression. Stop must be evaluated in profile so that it will not be confused with the raised brow. Occiput -not accentuated, the skull forming a gentle curve where it fits well into the neck. Expression- alert, intelligent and kind. Eyes- are set widely apart. Medium sized, almond shaped, dark brown or hazel; not large, round or yellow. Eye rims are self-colored and tight. Ears -relatively small, well set on, lying close to the side of the head and thickly feathered. Not low set (houndlike or setterish). Nose-Large open nostrils. Black on black dogs, brown on liver dogs. Lips -fairly tight, firm, clean and dry to minimize the retention of feathers. Jaws- long and strong, capable of carrying a hare or a pheasant. Bite-Scissors bite preferred, level bite acceptable. Broken teeth should not count against the dog. Severe Faults-Wry and undershot or overshot bites with a noticeable gap must be severely penalized. (Without a correct head the Flat Coat is just a pretty black dog.)

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck- strong and slightly arched for retrieving strength. (A goose is heavy..and this retriever should be able to lift it.) Moderately long to allow for easy seeking of the trail. Free from throatiness. Coat on neck is untrimmed. (Professional handlers...please reread that sentence!!) Topline- strong and level. Body-Chest (Brisket)-Deep, reaching to the elbow and only moderately broad. Forechest- Prow prominent and well developed. Rib cage- deep, showing good length from forechest to last rib (to allow ample space for all body organs), and only moderately broad. The foreribs fairly flat showing a gradual spring, well arched in the center of the body but rather lighter towards the loin. Underline-Deep chest tapering to a moderate tuck-up. Loin -strong, well muscled and long enough to allow for agility, freedom of movement and length of stride, but never weak or loosely coupled. Croup- slopes very slightly; rump moderately broad and well muscled. Tail -fairly straight, well set on, with bone reaching approximately to the hock joint. When the dog is in motion, the tail is carried happily but without curl as a smooth extension of the topline, never much above the level of the back.

Shoulders- long, well laid back shoulder blade with upper arm- of approximately equal length to allow for efficient reach. Musculature wiry rather than bulky. Elbows- clean, close to the body and set well back under the withers. Forelegs- straight and strong with medium bone of good quality. Pasterns- slightly sloping and strong. Dewclaws-Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet- oval or round. Medium sized and tight with well arched toes and thick pads.

Powerful with angulation in balance with the front assembly. Upper thighs- powerful and well muscled. Stifle-Good turn of stifle with sound, strong joint. Second thighs -(Stifle to hock joint)-Second or lower thigh as long as or only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock-Hock joint strong, well let down. Dewclaws-There are no hind dewclaws. Feet- oval or round. Medium sized and tight with well arched toes and thick pads.

Coat is of moderate length (we pray they do not become like the show Goldens with often excessive coat, tons of grooming "product" for fullness and GOD FORBID...chalk), density and fullness, with a high lustre. The ideal coat is straight and flat lying. A slight waviness is permissible but the coat is not curly, wooly, short, silky or fluffy. The Flat-Coat is a working retriever and the coat must provide protection from all types of weather, water and ground cover. This requires a coat of sufficient texture, length and fullness to allow for adequate insulation. When the dog is in full coat the ears, front, chest, back of forelegs, thighs and underside of tail are thickly feathered without being bushy, stringy or silky. Mane of longer heavier coat on the neck extending over the withers and shoulders is considered typical, especially in the male dog, and can cause the neck to appear thicker and the withers higher, sometimes causing the appearance of a dip behind the withers. Since the Flat-Coat is a hunting retriever, the feathering is not excessively long. Trimming-The Flat-Coat is shown with as natural a coat as possible and must not be penalized for lack of trimming, as long as the coat is clean and well brushed. Tidying of ears, feet, underline and tip of tail is acceptable. Whiskers serve a specific function and it is preferred that they not be trimmed. Shaving or barbering of the head, neck or body coat must be severely penalized.
(Sadly, in an effort to win, we are seeing too many handlers over-grooming Flat-Coats into Setter-like dogs. As owners we need to insist our handlers are NOT allowed to do this to the breed! We will end up like other breeds who have become more a grooming contest, complete with chalk and product in the coat. If our dogs are shown by other people, owners must insist the handler adheres to the standard of our breed in regards to grooming. Judges need to recognize this too!)

Solid black or solid liver. Disqualification-Yellow (yes they do occur and can be gorgeous and excellent workers...but should not be bred), cream or any color other than black or liver.  (ANY person  breeding yellow flat coats should NOT be considered "ethical breeders"! The standard CLEARLY states that yellow is a disqualifying color; and as such, a resposnible breeder would NEVER seek to breed for yellow. This is NOT to say that sometimes a yellow pup doesn't appear in a litter...they do...but such pups should be loved and spayed/neutered. A dog with a disqualifying fault should NOT be bred! 
REMEMBER: YELLOW is not some rare color that makes the dog more valuable or sought after!

Sound, efficient movement is of critical importance to a hunting retriever. The Flat-Coat viewed from the side covers ground efficiently and movement appears balanced, free flowing and well coordinated, never choppy, mincing or ponderous. Front and rear legs reach well forward and extend well back, achieving long clean strides. Topline appears level, strong and supple while dog is in motion.
(Nor should they be so fat they "roll". )

The Flat-Coat is a strong but elegant, cheerful (keep you laughing) hunting retriever. Quality of structure, balance and harmony of all parts both standing and in motion are essential. As a breed whose purpose is of a utilitarian nature, structure, condition and attitude should give every indication of being suited for hard work.

Character is a primary and outstanding asset of the Flat-Coat. He is a responsive, loving member of the family, a versatile working dog, multi-talented, sensible, bright and tractable. In competition the Flat-Coat demonstrates stability- and a desire to please with a confident, happy and outgoing attitude characterized by a wagging tail. Nervous, hyperactive, apathetic, shy or obstinate behavior is undesirable. Severe Fault-Unprovoked aggressive behavior toward people or animals is totally- unacceptable.
(Good temperament is VITAL!!)

Character   (They are "Characters")
Character is as important to the evaluation of stock by a potential breeder as any other aspect of the breed standard. The Flat-Coat is primarily a family companion hunting retriever. He is keen and birdy, flushing within gun range, as well as a determined, resourceful retriever on land and water. He has a great desire to hunt with self-reliance and an uncanny ability to adapt to changing circumstances on a variety of upland game and waterfowl. (This means childrens toys, socks and shoes are fair game also) As a family companion he is sensible, alert and highly intelligent (They think they are smarter than you and look for ways to show you) ; a lighthearted, affectionate and adaptable friend. He retains these qualities as well as his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age. (The "Peter Pan of the dog world)  The adult Flat-Coat is usually an adequate alarm dog to give warning (then gladly retrieves your fine silver for the intruder), but is a good-natured, optimistic dog, basically inclined to be friendly to all. The Flat-Coat is a cheerful, devoted companion who requires and appreciates living with and interacting as a member of his family. To reach full potential in any endeavor he absolutely must have a strong personal bond and affectionate individual attention. (and obedience training!)


Yellow, cream or any color other than black or liver.


Approved September 11, 1990
Effective October 30, 1990